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24.04.2024: Trends and challenges


Susanne Ullrich on April 24, 2024

B2B marketing is facing major changes: We live in a world where data-driven information is considered a decisive competitive advantage and where AI is advancing at a rapid pace. The effective use of marketing analytics can have a significant impact on the competitive advantage of a company. In our blog post interview with Carmen Rohr, an expert in digital transformation with a focus on the B2B sector, we explore how modern methods are redefining B2B marketing.

The interview discusses innovative approaches such as marketing automation, agile practices and how they improve the measurability of digitalization. Find out how your company can benefit from these developments, not only to stay ahead in the market, but also to stay one step ahead of your competition. Enjoy reading this article.

1. Carmen, please tell us a bit more about yourself.

My name is Carmen Rohr, and my consulting brand is called “kauleo” – which means support and help in the Hawaiian language. I have been working as a digital transformation consultant for over 10 years, focusing on marketing & sales in the B2B sector. I have gained my experience in eCommerce & Digital Marketing as Managing Director of a digital agency as well as on the customer side of large corporations.

Nowadays, my roles are very diverse. I am sometimes booked as a strategy consultant, agile coach, business coach, KPI expert, OKR coach or facilitator. I love this versatility in my job. Born in Berlin, I love traveling the world and immersing myself in foreign cultures and new business worlds. Speaking of diving: When I’m not diving in the digital world, I like to dive through the water, whether it’s swimming lakes in Berlin or the world’s oceans. I love the water, swimming, sailing and surfing are pure joie de vivre for me.

Carmen Rohr

B2B Expert Carmen Rohr

2. Which challenges do you see in the B2B sector in terms of marketing and sales?

The challenge often lies in the people themselves, and traditions and habits are often more firmly anchored in companies that have been operating for many years, such as in B2B, than in faster-moving B2C worlds.

This is why projects such as the introduction of marketing automation are often associated with a change project. This must be understood by everyone involved right from the start. For this reason, I act not only as a digital expert but also as an agile coach when clarifying the assignment and ask questions such as “To what extent are the teams already working agile?”, “What is the level of digital expertise, the ‘maturity level’?” etc.

The self-image of the teams and stakeholders often also leads to a change process in the digital transformation.

Marketing might consider itself a service center for sales, sales might consider itself an executive – working together, they are naturally more successful. Systems such as marketing automation or customer relationship management (CRM) bring the work processes together, but not the mindset or the attitude and motivations of both teams. For example, the definition of a KPI framework can bring out a silo mentality and lead to major delays in the project.

It is important to develop a shared agile mindset and to define common goals. If affected teams such as marketing, sales and service have a common understanding of the objectives, everyone can make the best possible contribution to the success of the team and the company in their area of activity.

A holistic view of processes and systems is therefore one thing, but it is much more important to consider the organization and its people, their professional and personal requirements and experiences. Many companies today are open to an agile way of working, which makes it easier to responsibly involve everyone involved in digitalization.

3. How can the degree of digitization in the B2B sector be measured?

There are various models, the so-called ‘digital maturity level’ of a company, to measure the status of digitalization, which of course does not only apply to B2B. In a more strategic digital transformation consultancy, I start by determining the level of digitalization of the teams and the most important business areas in terms of processes, systems and organization. The result is initially a brief analysis that gives the B2B company and me a clear view of the initial situation in terms of digitalization or strategic goals and from which we can derive how the next steps should be designed.

Depending on requirements, I dive deeper and also determine, for example, the degree of implementation of a system or the digital competence level of the teams. There are only a few companies from larger SMEs in Germany that are digitally resistant. Most are in the mid-range digitally in their day-to-day business.

Processes are digitized at various levels. Systems such as CRM, marketing automation, content operations and analysis tools have been implemented. Digital core competencies and roles are being developed or have already been established. With an agile, iterative approach, it is then easier to measure the return on investment (ROI) and continue to successfully develop the digitalization process. The development can either be measured retrospectively using KPIs or accompanied by OKRs (Objective Key Results) for strategic development. Both frameworks are developed individually with the B2B company and implementation is monitored. Further progress then becomes apparent in the details, such as the data strategy.

At the beginning, you work in a manual data chaos with often inconsistent data collection and without generating any real added value from it. At maximum digital maturity, there is a KPI framework, data is collected strategically and the system-based findings are used to automatically manage further marketing and sales activities in a way that drives success. A learning, iterative, agile approach is also more profitable here than trying to manage everything with one mega project.

4. How do B2B managers move from theory to action?

Depending on the level of thinking, different approaches make sense. As explained earlier, a holistic view of the entire company or the relevant areas of the company is important for the development of a digital strategy at the beginning. With an agile way of working, however, you can then quickly get to work with agile teams.

A proven model for the short-term operational planning and management of the strategy is an OKR framework, which is used to set up the respective goals with corresponding key results at various levels and iteratively record and further implement the respective findings in a quarterly routine. This ensures the commitment of all those involved, even in complex projects, and creates transparency for everyone as well as continuous implementation of the strategy within the company. Furthermore, there is the opportunity for constant adaptation, which engages all stakeholders and team members in the long term.

In this way, a long-term strategy can be set up that does not end up in a shelf but is alive and can be adapted and further developed in the current dynamic global environment.

5. To what extent does AI assist the marketing of a B2B company?

It might be easier to answer to what extent it does not assist.

In many marketing processes, artificial intelligence (AI) is already integrated into the systems used. For example, in content operations management, marketing automation or in data analysis and SEO monitoring systems. Here, the benefits are offered to the user on a silver platter in the process, so to speak, or are carried out in the background.

In my opinion, all areas of marketing can benefit from artificial intelligence today.

Here are a few examples:

  • in the production of content in text, images and video
  • in the development of presentations and white papers
  • in translation and dubbing
  • in data analysis and interpretation
  • in testing and optimizing the user experience (UX)
  • in lead management for the identification of potential customers
  • in responding to customer inquiries and many more.

In addition, the free use of ChatGPT or other chatbots based on large language models is often secured in B2B companies and replaced by in-house solutions. This also includes setting up your own prompt library and, of course, training users to achieve meaningful results.

I assume that in future, human intelligence will be used more in creative performance, in the human understanding of target groups and customers and in the post-qualification of results. However, many standardized activities will be replaced by artificial intelligence.

6. What should the profile of a marketeer in B2B look like today?

The most important skills of a marketeer in the B2B sector today, in addition to an overall understanding of marketing & sales, are data competence, technical system competence and an agile attitude.

Curiosity, courage and no fear of a multitude of systems.

The agile mindset enables collaborative work with many adjacent teams, openness to constant change and the courage to try out new things. After all, a marketing manager today works with a variety of technical systems and must have no qualms about trying them out and acting very transparently for others with many programs. Even if there are many quality checks that ensure, for example, that a perfect mailing is sent to a million users, I understand that your heart flutters when you approve the release. That’s why an open, fearless corporate and error-free culture is a key success factor for the future of marketing.

Wonderful, thank you very much for the exciting interview, Carmen!